In 1980, Malaysia’s football team qualified for the Olympics but chose not to attend it because the hosts- The Soviet Union – just started an incursion into Afghanistan.
Malaysian football has never qualified for anything as prestigious since. We are officially a minnow.
The relegation of the country to a so-so footballing nation went at a relentless pace. And now while all the Asean leagues thrive, Malaysia has a league not many want to watch.
There are disused stadiums, there are disused pitches, there is no feeder system to the clubs or states using the schools, and there is most definitely not enough effort to get as many Malaysian young to have access to a sporting programme. There is a lack of development process for these new clubs – in terms of staffing, management, marketing and merchandising.
The whole thing is in shambles, and the long journey into oblivion was during the care of the Pahang sultan and his crown son Tengku Abdullah.
Destruction transfer from football to hockey
And now the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) has made Tengku Abdullah its president – what madness reigns in this country?
Malaysian hockey has been in constant disarray since its high in 1975, making it to the semifinals of the world cup we hosted. We’ve not come close since – and more so – they’ve stopped using grass and reverted to astro turf since then.
Hockey needs more players. Qualify it, hockey needs more players whom learn the proper techniques of the game, develop tactical awareness and match fitness. These things happen when you are in an adequate training programme under a coach, and play x-number of competitive games a year.
The problems are similar to football, so you get the same person who participated in the carnage of that sport to come over to hockey?
The thinking that members of any royal family can on the basis of their lineage solve problems is outdated.
The goal of any MHF leadership is to increase the following:
a) Reduce the start age of hockey players
b) Increase the number of hockey players who get technical, tactical, fitness and diet training/education early.
c) Optimise the number of competitive games the average hockey player plays at every age group.
d) Increase the numbers of working hockey pitches in the country, and look at ways how to partner local councils and companies to pay for their construction and maintenance.
e) Have a healthy ratio of trained coaches, spread well across the country – with regular knowledge enhancing.
f) Develop a sustainable commercial model for hockey leagues, where there is high technical-tactical know how even to the lower leagues.
g) Transition for interested players to coaching, umpiring & sports management.
I’ve not seen enough evidence of that in football, even with his daddy as Asian Football Confederation president, and I can’t see him giving it to hockey.
Actually Tengku Abdullah is not the only problem in Malaysian sports. A slew of politicians, bureaucrats and career administrators have carried on without having any real vision – because they think it is all about being figureheads.
Price to pay
So time for a long hard prayer for hockey.
The trouble with change like this it takes time for the damage to be felt. Like for football, they did not know in 1980 that having the Pahang royal house run football would run it to the ground and become a major minnow in global football.
So the clock has started to run down on Malaysian hockey.